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Thus much the business is: We have here writ
To Norway, uncle of young Fortinbras,—
Who, impotent and bed-rid, scarcely hears
Of this his nephew's purpose,-to suppress
His further gait herein; in that the levies,
The lists, and full proportions, are all made
Out of his subject:—and we here despatch
You, good Cornelius, and you, Voltimand,
For bearers of this greeting to old Norway;
Giving to you no further personal power
To business with the king, more than the scope
Of these dilated articles 2 allow.
Farewell; and let your haste commend your duty.
COR. VOL. In that, and all things, will we show
our duty.

KING. We doubt it nothing; heartily farewell. [Exeunt VOLTIMAND and CORNELIUS. And now, Laertes, what's the news with you?

* First folio, bearing.


to suppress

His further GAIT herein,] Gate or gait is here used in the northern sense, for proceeding, passage; from the A. S. verb gae. A gate for a path, passage, or street, is still current in the north. PERCY.

So, in A Midsummer-Night's Dream, Act V. Sc. II.: "Every fairy take his gait." HARRIS.

more than the scope-] More is comprized in the general design of these articles, which you may explain in a more diffused and dilated style. JOHNSON.

2 these DILATED articles ALLOW.] i. e. the articles when dilated. Musgrave.

The poet should have written allows. Many writers fall into this error, when a plural noun immediately precedes the verb; as I have had occasion to observe in a note on a controverted passage in Love's Labour's Lost. So, in Julius Cæsar :

"The posture of your blows are yet unknown."

Again, in Cymbeline: " and the approbation of those are wonderfully to extend him," &c. MALONE.

Surely, all such defects in our author, were merely the errors of illiterate transcribers or printers. STEEVENS.



You told us of some suit; What is't, Laertes ?
You cannot speak of reason to the Dane,
And lose your voice: What would'st thou beg,

-That shall not be my offer, not thy asking?
The head is not more native to the heart,
The hand more instrumental to the mouth,
Than is the throne of Denmark to thy father3.
What would'st thou have, Laertes ?


My dread lord *, Your leave and favour to return to France; From whence though willingly I came to Denmark,

To show my duty in your coronation;

Yet now, I must confess, that duty done,

My thoughts and wishes bend again toward France, And bow them to your gracious leave and pardon. KING. Have you your father's leave? What says Polonius?

*First folio, Dread



3 The HEAD is not more native to the heart, The hand more instrumental to the mouth,

Than is the throne of Denmark to thy father.] The sense seems to be this: The head is not formed to be more useful to the heart, the hand is not more at the service of the mouth, than my power is at your father's service. That is, he may command me to the utmost, he may do what he pleases with my kingly authority. STEEVENS.

By native to the heart, Dr. Johnson understands, "natural and congenial to it, born with it, and co-operating with it."

Formerly the heart was supposed the seat of wisdom; and hence the poet speaks of the close connection between the heart and head. So, in Coriolanus, Act I. Sc. I.:

"Even to the court, the heart-to the seat of the brain." See the note on that passage. MALONE.

We meet with a thought resembling this in Much Ado About Nothing:


I will deal in this

"As secretly, and justly, as your soul
Should with your body." BoswELl.


I OL. He hath, my lord, [wrung from me my slow leave1,

By laboursome petition; and, at last,
Upon his will I seal'd my hard consent :]
I do beseech you, give him leave to go.

KING. Take thy fair hour, Laertes ; time be thine, And thy best graces: spend it at thy will3.But now, my cousin Hamlet, and my son,

HAM. A little more than kin, and less than kind. [Aside.


wrung from me my slow leave,] following lines are omitted in the folio. 5 Take thy fair hour, Laertes; time be thine,

and bear the inventory

And thy best graces: spend it at thy will.] The sense is,— You have my leave to go, Laertes; make the fairest use you please of your time, and spend it at your will with the fairest graces you are master of. THEobald.

So, in King Henry VIII. :


These words and the two


your best graces in your mind." STEEVENS.

I rather think this line is in want of emendation. I read :

time is thine,

And my best graces: spend it at thy will. JOHNSON. 6 Ham. A little more than KIN, and less than KIND.] Kind is the Teutonick word for child. Hamlet therefore answers with propriety, to the titles of cousin and son, which the king had given him, that he was somewhat more than cousin, and less than son. JOHNSON.

In this line, with which Shakspeare introduces Hamlet, Dr. Johnson has perhaps pointed out a nicer distinction than it can justly boast of. To establish the sense contended for, it should have been proved that kind was ever used by any English writer for child. "A little more than kin," is a little more than a common relation. The King was certainly something "less than kind," by having betrayed the mother of Hamlet into an indecent and incestuous marriage, and obtained the crown by means which he suspects to be unjustifiable. In the fifth Act, the prince accuses his uncle of having "popp'd in between the election and his hopes," which obviates Dr. Warburton's objection to the old reading, viz. that "the king had given no occasion for such a reflection."

A jingle of the same sort is found in Mother Bombie, 1594, and seems to have been proverbial, as I have met with it more than once: <" the nearer we are in blood, the further we must

KING. How is it that the clouds still hang on you?

HAM. Not so, my lord, I am too much i'the sun 7. QUEEN. Good Hamlet, cast thy nighted colour


And let thine eye look like a friend on Denmark. Do not, for ever, with thy vailed lids "


*First folio, Nightly.

be from love; the greater the kindred is, the less the kindness must be."

Again, in Gorboduc, a tragedy, 1561:

"In kinde a father, but not kindelyness."

In the Battle of Alcazar, 1594, Muly Mahomet is called "Traitor to kinne and kinde."

As kind, however, signifies nature, Hamlet may mean that his relationship was become an unnatural one, as it was partly founded upon incest. Our author's Julius Cæsar, Antony and Cleopatra, King Richard II., and Titus Andronicus, exhibit instances of kind being used for nature; and so too in this play of Hamlet, Act II. Sc. the last :

"Remorseless, treacherous, lecherous, kindless villain."

Dr. Farmer, however, observes that kin is still used for cousin in the midland counties. STEEVENS.

Hamlet does not, I think, mean to say, as Mr. Steevens supposes, that his uncle is a little more than kin, &c. The King had called the Prince-" My cousin Hamlet, and my son."— His reply, therefore, is,-'I am a little more than thy kinsman, [for I am thy step-son ;] and somewhat less than kind to thee, [for I hate thee, as being the person who has entered into an incestuous marriage with my mother.]' Or, if we understand kind in its ancient sense, then the meaning will be, I am more than thy kinsman, for I am thy step-son; being such, "I am less near to thee than thy natural offspring," and therefore not entitled to the appellation of son, which you have now given me. MALONE.


7- too much i'the sun.] He perhaps alludes to the proverb, "Out of heaven's blessing into the warm sun." JOHNSON.

Meaning probably his being sent for from his studies to be exposed at his uncle's marriage as his chiefest courtier, &c.


I question whether a quibble between sun and son be not here intended. FARMER.

In the quarto the word is spelt sonne.


Seek for thy noble father in the dust:
Thou know'st, 'tis common; all, that live, must dieo.
Passing through nature to eternity.

HAM. Ay, madam, it is common.

If it be,

Why seems it so particular with thee?
HAM. Seems, madam! nay, it is; I know not


'Tis not alone my inky cloak, good mother *,
Nor customary suits of solemn black,
Nor windy suspiration of forc'd breath,
No, nor the fruitful river in the eye,
Nor the dejected haviour of the visage,
Together with all forms, modes, shows of grief',
That can denote me truly: These, indeed, seem,
For they are actions that a man might play:
But I have that within, which passeth show;
These, but the trappings and the suits of woe3.
KING. "Tis sweet and commendable in your na-
ture, Hamlet,

[blocks in formation]

* Quarto, cool mother.

vailed lids] With lowering eyes, cast down eyes.


So, in The Merchant of Venice:


Vailing her high-top lower than her ribs." STEEVENS. 9 Thou know'st, 'tis common; all, that live, must die.] Perhaps the semicolon placed in this line, is improper. The sense, elliptically expressed, is,-Thou knowest it is common that all that live, must die.-The first that is omitted for the sake of metre, a practice often followed by Shakspeare. STEEVENS.


-SHOWS of grief,] Thus the folio. The first quarto reads― chapes-I suppose, for shapes. STEEVENS.

It is shapes in the subsequent quartos; and this reading is adopted by Mr. Capell. BoswELL.

2 But I have that within, which passeth show;

These, but the trappings and the suits of woe.] So, in King Richard II. :


my grief lies all within ;

"And these external manners of lament

"Are merely shadows to the unseen grief

"That swells with silence in the tortur'd soul." MALONE.

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